Extent and correlates of walking in the USA

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

planning - surveys, land use - urban density, mode - pedestrian, mode - pedestrian


Walking, United States, Trip purpose, Travel surveys, Socioeconomic factors, Socioeconomic aspects, Population density, Pedestrians, Logits, Logit models, Geography, Demographics, Data collection, Data acquisition


This paper examines data about walking trips in the US Department of Transportation's 2001 National Household Travel Survey. The paper describes and critiques the methods used in the survey to collect data on walking. Using these data, we summarize the extent of walking, the duration and distance of walk trips, and variations in walking behavior according to geographic and socio-demographic factors. The results show that most Americans do not walk at all, but those who do average close to thirty minutes of walking a day. Walk trips averaged about a half-mile, but the median trip distance was a quarter of a mile. A significant percentage of the time Americans' walk was spent traveling to and from transit trips. Binary logit models are used for examining utility and recreational walk trips and show a positive relationship between walking and population density for both. For recreational trips, this effect shows up at the extreme low and high ends of density. For utility trips, the odds of reporting a walk trip increase with each density category, but the effect is most pronounced at the highest density categories. At the highest densities, a large portion of the effect of density occurs via the intermediary of car ownership. Educational attainment has a strong effect on propensity to take walk trips, for both for utility and recreation. Higher income was associated with fewer utility walk trips but more recreational trips. Asians, Latinos, and blacks were less likely to take utility walk trips than whites, after controlling for income, education, density, and car ownership. The ethnic differences in walking are even larger for recreational trips.


Transportation Research Part D Home Page: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/13619209